Tag Archives: art


Designer as Messenger

By Absar Ahmed

In our age, Designer’s role is very important, rather terrifying. Designers are responsible for the changing face of our culture in almost every aspect. On one hand designers are, like others, a part of the culture. On the other hand they hold more critical and catalytic responsibilities than others.In order to understand designer’s role, and where they stand in the cultural evolution, first we have to define ourselves.

How do we define ourselves? Through input and information. Through newspapers, books, magazines, television, radio, phone, advertisements, internet etc. And, the codes we use to make sense of all that, is language. These codes can be variable, in different cultures or even in the same culture at different times. These codes are either ‘signifiers’ or the ‘signified’. Further more, those signifiers and signified either have denoted or connoted meanings, which both the communicator and the receiver can understand.

We (designers), as messengers or communicators use those denoted or connoted meanings. We have the responsibility to formulate the messages. We are the translators of invisible ideas into a tangible form. What we transmit is received by someone else. Our output becomes someone else’s input.

We take absolutely abstracts concepts, such as emotions, sensation, feelings, expressions and desires etc. and change them into visible form. We are given the responsibility of formulating the message because we are believed and trusted to have all the skills necessary for that. In fact, the power of those skills or tools is horrifying. We use our powerful skills to change the matter, from intangible to tangible, invisible to visible, imperceptible to perceptible. Then we sell these forms.

Our main goal is to persuade someone at any cost. Because, we are highly skilled at persuasion, we can make people ignore other choices available to them. We can easily exploit people and we do; since we can not afford the freedom of thought.Language is continuously evolving. It evolves from the culture. And, because it also defines culture, we are using it to destroy culture. We take an original language from a target culture, incorporate its selected elements with our own language (the language of advertising and promotion) and feed back. This way we are freezing thoughts. We are also replacing and dictating the cultural values, evaluating bogus ideologies and creating stereotypes. We are reversing the process of listening. We are making ‘signifiers’ the ‘signified.’

All language is fluid and so as our ideas and beliefs. We cease the development, when we try to freeze our views. And, when we not only freeze our views, but also attempt to persuade others of their truths, we start dictatorship. Information is not just information. Information is also how a fact is presented, how we inform, and, are informed about a fact. This means, we have choices as to how to form a fact and therefore as to how a fact should actually be perceived. This way information becomes censorship and we control people’s mind or at least attempt to do that.

It is we (designers), who decide how to transmit the signal, how to present the message, how to make noise to attract people, how to make contents presentable. We are making more noise than signal. Mostly, the presentation of signal obscures the signal itself. The box becomes the content, thus making the message ‘content-free.’ Whilst I am writing these lines, a group of my class fellows will be working on an advertising brief, which asks them to advertise and sell happiness. Do you really believe that happiness can be sold or bought?At this stage, honestly, I do not feel confident enough to suggest anything because I believe, I still have to find a way out of this chaos. Although, I am convinced that we need to learn listening, in order to understand speaking.

Language and culture are continuously evolving. Which means, signifiers and the signified can always change or shift their meanings. However, to force them to change their meanings, just to freeze someone’s thoughts can never be (or at least should not be) justifiable. We have to move towards receiver to become broadcaster, since we are not only the broadcasters but also the receivers. We must stop selling things that we are obliged to give away. We are also supposed to train and educate, not only exploit and dictate.


Partial bibliography

Ways of seeing by John Berger (London)

About Looking by John Berger (London)

Image Music Text by Roland Barthes (London)

Mythologies by Roland Barthes (London)


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Creativity and Education: Why it Matters

Adobe has released Creativity and Education: Why it Matters, a new study that sheds light on the role of creativity in career success and the growing belief that creativity is not just a personality trait, but a learned Adobe has released Creativity and Education: Why it Matters, a new study that sheds light on the role of creativity in career success and the growing belief that creativity is not just a personality trait, but a learned skill.




Funky T-shirt Artwork

There is something about t-shirts that we love,maybe it is there casualness or its expressive nature when it comes to putting a cool print or a typographically explained statement on it..also they are usually the cheapest wardrobe item you can buy and still look awesome…but that’s just us.

maybe it is there casualness or its expressive nature when it comes to putting a cool print or a typographically explained statement on it..also they are usually the cheapest wardrobe item you can buy and still look awesome…but that’s just us. We came up with the idea of making our own t-shirts and studied a little bit about the types of available printing processes out there, the costs and marketing strategies that can be effective to make a good sale, create demand and play safe with lesser risk factors involved…but lets be honest here. Yet we did get to understand different techniques and visual styles to go with our T-Shirt illustrations since we mainly focused on that, WeI have come up with one simple and fun way to make a T-shirt design and would love to share it with you.

Our main focus was on getting hold of a good design style that stands out to most of the t-shirt designs out there,

So lets get it started….

Doodling much?.…good cause your tiny doodles that you might have been sketching in during a lecture or a boring meeting might come in handy today.Here is what I mean…

  • Now I have doodled some random stuff there on a piece of paper. First thing is to get it scanned or maybe just take a nice sharp picture of it from your camera.

  • So now you have a scanned image of your doodled artwork and you have to take it to any image manipulation software of your liking…in my case, I will demonstrate this on Photoshop. Here we can intensify the black and make it more prominent.

  • One easy way to intensify the dark area of the image, in this case the pencil outlines is to change the curves of the image. Curves is a great tool to effectively control the contrast and tones of any image. But since we require only black to be intensified, any other tone that might be present in the image needs to go, hence first we desaturate the image
  • goto: Image>Desaturate

and now you have a pure black and white image perfect for this job. Moveon to the curve tool as described in the image above which will open a dialogue box like the image on the right now, change the input value between 95 to 115 depending on the thickness of the outlines you have and you will get a more refined form of the sketch that is ready to be vectorized.

After implementing the above procedure you will get an image withsharper darker outlines compared to the raw image yout initially got after the scan.

  • OK so now since the image is looking good, lets focus on how we can get this vectorized and make it more interesting, we can also try adding some colors to the design which is always a plus.
  • There are several ways to go vector with the image we have produced. One of the ways is to draw the outlines using a pen tool which I might cover some other time, but for now I believe let us try something easier to follow and getting a funkier look than that we get from a usual pen drawing. For this I will use the Adobe Illustrator to make it possible…lets begin,

Now first import the image on to the illustrator clipboard..Import the entire image if you want to vectorize everything on the paper, here I am cropping a small section of the doodled artwork and taking it through the procedure.

  • I am using the live trace tool in the illustrator to vectorize this, since it is the

easiest way to get the result I want.

goto: Object>Live trace>Tracing options

This will open up a dialog box which features all of the settings you need tocontrol your result image. First of all make sure the “Preview” check box is checked in order to view your result as you change the settings. Now follow the steps as described below,

In the adjustments options:

  • Mode: Black & White
  • Threshold: Between 135 to 160 (depending on how thick you require the stroke of the image to be)

In the Trace settings options:

  • Fills: Check
  • Path fitting: 3 to 5 (This will automatically smoothen the shape of the drawing significantly yet mostly the value depends upon the shape and stroke of the drawing itself)
  • Corner angle: 95 to 110 (This value if increased will decrease the amount of anchor points in the drawing hence smoothing the shape as well)

Lets see what we got. There is a clear difference between the two images and it feels like we almost have what we needed, we can also try adding colours to the vector form. For this you need to first select the vectorized image still opened in the Illustrator and,

goto: Object>Expand

This will Breakdown the components of the drawing such as its anchor points, stroke and fills…hence we will be able to edit it thoughtfully. Select each fill and choose the colours from the colour pallete.

The resulted drawing is a full fledge vector which can be implemented on any print medium. Lets see how this one looks on a T-shirt….

So there you go guys, Its one of the processes that can get your designs easily out there on virtually any print medium available.


Inspiration…Can I get one of those?

So at the office today I felt kind of low and lacking any sense of motivation to do something awesome with my usual projects. I basically work as a print magazine designer/Creative and I kind of love the job to the perspective of responsibility that I have to make something that looks good to the readers. Yet I do not feel that thrust of enthusiasm a lot of days, so I started wondering “what the heck”… I have been in love with commercial art and design as far as I can remember, so what is it that is keeping me from being all so inspired on the daily basis with the projects I have.

Although I hate monotony, yet it is not something I completely despise when it helps me maintain a good balance with work and life so I bothered to study how few other good graphic designers out there tend to go about there daily work routine, not just trying to understand there work ethics but also how they keep their work environment and the workflow.

I got a few ideas and I can easily say this… there is no set rule on a carved stone that can guide every designer out there searching for their daily juice of inspiration. I believe that it is important for us individually to understand our key strengths and that might help us eventually finding out what will make us shine through. A few key basics that can guide a full time creative professional or a freelancer to my opinion can be,

Find your E-Spot: It so very important to find your enthusiastic centre, it is something that I feel is almost mandatory to go about the route of creating a  healthy experience while working and making good design happen. Now finding that very centre is not so easy, specially if your fresh, but you might still have a faint idea about it. So it needs to be something specific like if you have always loved photography…are you more interested in capturing topographic landscapes or maybe it is something about the insects that give you a sudden boost of creativity and inspiration. In short, find out what makes your mind and heart all lit up with ideas and jolts you to create something awesome.

WORK SPACE: Creativity bursts from the external stimuli, It is the experiences that feed our mind to help us churn out ideas, having said that, you need to create a working environment that best suits to your individual preferences in terms of what you like to feel like in your workstation and also what you mostly require. Although ideas can come from anywhere like if you are sitting on the toilet doing your business or just while your driving..but make sure your workstation feels like a home to your mind because that is the place where probably most of the ideas will take its tangible form.

Keep a record: Finally, you can always try keeping a habit of recording pretty much all of those thoughts that come to your head…let them be on a piece of paper or a sketchbook that you can keep around you. By doing so, I can surely claim that you will end up with quite bit of a vocabulary full of ideas of your own and maybe a guide that can help you out with those unfortunate times when you go through a creative block. Hence you will be able to continue creating fresh and original ideas.

On the end note…remember to work with a fresh mind and never try force feeding a design, It doesn’t deserve that. Instead let the inspiration come to you and when it doesn’t…..wait….after all we’re only human. :)

Good Luck!